Friday, December 19, 2008

and hear the angels sing!

And ye, beneath life's crushing load

Whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the climbing way

With painful steps and slow,

Look, now! for glad and golden hours

Come swiftly on the wing

O rest beside the weary load

and hear the angels sing!

Edmund H. Sears

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

FAQ - Why Didn't You / Don't You Answer Your Phone?

There are several reasons that I sometimes don't answer my phone including but not limited to:

1. It is dead.

2. I unintentionally left it in the car.

3. I intentionally left it in the car because I am in church or at a doctor's appointment or somewhere else I do not want it to ring.

4. I am out and I accidently left it at home.

5. It is in another room and I do not hear it ringing.

6. It is in another room and I do hear it ringing but do not get to it fast enough.

7. It is in another room and I hear it ringing quietly and cannot tell what room it is coming from. In these circumstances it often weirdly feels like the sound is coming from every room.

8. It is in another room and I hear it ringing but can not get to it because I am in the middle of something like feeding or rocking a baby.

9. I do not know where it is.

10. I have company or am out with someone and it would be rude to answer the phone.

11. I do not recognize the number on the caller ID.

12. I do not want to talk to the person calling. (This I assure you, never applies to you.)

13. I do want to talk to the person calling, but do not have time right now to devote to the call.

14. The person calling is awkward to talk to, so I would rather just let them leave a message.

15. I know what the person calling wants and I do not yet have an answer for them.

16. I suspect the person calling is looking for someone else who is not with me.

17. I am in the middle of a serious conversation.

18. I am watching 24.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


A prayer from The Valley of Vision :


As the sun is full of light, the ocean full of water,
Heaven full of glory, so may my heart be full of thee.
Vain are all purposes of divine love
and the redemption by Jesus
except thou work within,
regenerating by thy power,
giving me eyes to see Jesus
showing me to the realities of the unseen world.
Give me thyself without measure,
as an unimpaired fountain,
as inexhaustible riches.
I bewail my coldness, poverty, emptiness,
imperfect vision, languid service,
prayerless prayers, praiseless praise.
Suffer me not to grieve or resist thee.
Come as power,
to expel every rebel lust, to reign supreme and keep me thine;
Come as teacher,
leading me into all truth, filling me with all understanding;
Come as love,
that I may adore the Father, and love him as my all;
Come as joy,
to dwell in me, move in me, animate me;
Come as light,
illuminating the Scripture, moulding me to its laws;
Come as sanctifier,
body, soul and spirit wholly thine;
Come as helper,
with strength to bless and keep, directing my every step;
Come as beautifier,
bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos.
Magnify to me thy glory by being magnified in me,
and make me redolent of thy fragrance.

So be it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

If I Had Tonight To Live Over Again...

...when Afton came running out of her room and peered cutely at me around the corner until I noticed her and then put out her adorable arms and said "Hold?" I would scoop her up and instead of just smiling at her and walking her back to bed like I did I would bring on to the couch with me. I would snuggle her and listen to her talk about babies and dogs and ducks and cups. If she asked me for a cup I would get her one without even trying to remember how much milk or juice she had already had today. Instead of thinking, "I know she is precious, but she needs to learn to stay in bed. We must have order" I would think, "I know I was looking forward to relaxing, but I need to make the most of these precious days. They go by so fast." Instead of basking in the silence of an empty living room I would bask in the brilliance of my daughter's sweet wide eyed innocence. The kind that just won't last forever. If I had tonight to live over I might even let her stay up until Daddy got home. What would it have hurt? And she wouldn't have made it that long anyway. All she really wanted was ten minutes more and if I had tonight to live over again I would have given them to her. It wouldn't have hurt anything. It wouldn't have spoiled her for life. She may have been a little more tired tomorrow morning and she may have tried it again tomorrow night. No permanent damage though, only permanent good. If I had tonight to live over again I would live it differently. Instead I will take this lesson with me into tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sunny & Fair.

My trees are gold and crimson,
My weather sunny and fair.
There is a play pen in my living room,
Toys everywhere.
It wasn't always this way.
It won't always be the same.
Oh, but today is beautiful.
Today I'm glad I came.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This Evening.

Ron worked late tonight so after I put Ponder to bed Afton and I watched John and Kate Plus Eight. She loved it. Every time it a commercial came on she started crying and saying, "Babies! Babies!" There was a giraffe on the show tonight and Afton called it a cat. I laughed and thought "I love how funny my life is." Earlier this evening when we were walking downtown she we saw an African American gentleman dressed in a business suit also out for a walk. Afton pointed at him and started yelling "Obama! Obama!" Really embarrassing, but also really funny. He didn't seem to mind. Oh and today my girls really discovered each other for the first time. Afton would lean over Ponder's swing and talk to her and Ponder would smile, squeal, and laugh out loud. I loved watching them interact. What a sweet gift each day is. I am so grateful.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Afton's Dictionary

Afton is getting more and more words everyday. When she says things wrong it is way to adorable to correct her so I never do. I want her to keep talking like this forever! I know someday soon she will speak plain English and I will miss trying to decipher Aftonese! So I will never forget her delightful little language here is a small sampling of some of my favorites:

A - coloring, drawing, or writing; crayons
ahh ahh - music
amen - (uh MEN) amen; the church building; the end of a song
baby - anyone Afton's age or younger, baby dolls, stuffed animals
bey - obey (usually said as she is getting caught disobeying)
bite - (bi -eet) all food
blanks - her special blanket
bondt - bonked or got hurt in anyway
call - phone
cat - cats or rabbits
come - take me with you
cup - (cu-pah) all cups and drinks and anything resembling a cup
dog - (dohg) all animals besides ducks, cats, and rabbits
dut - ducks
eres - where is (as in eres daddy? eres Scout?)
eyes - eyes, glasses, sunglasses
go - the stroller
happy day you - happy birthday to you
keese - kiss 0r keys
moosh - spoon
nates - naked
natz - snack
nigh nigh - bedtime; bed; sleeping; i'm tired; all blankets except blanks
pay - pray or play
pooze - pillows
potty!! - anything having to do with potty, always said with lots of enthusiasm
telp - (also pronounced yelp) help
toss - apple sauce
un - I want (as in un bite! un cup!
watie - bath; water; rain; swimming pool
wotz - I want to watch a cartoon
wotnews - cartoons
yehrios - cheerios
yotes - yogurt
yous? - shoes
yous! - juice

"Mates" is a word she has been saying for the past several days and I still haven't figured out what it means. Anyone have a guess?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Land Ho!

We bought ourselves a piece of ground in South Carolina this weekend. In the next couple of years we hope to build a home and raise our children on that little plot of earth. I wish I had time to say more about how unexpectedly creepy the auction was and how inexpressibly thankful I am to God for blessing us in this way. At this time I simply do not. This video of our winning bid at the land auction captures a little of both. For those interested Ron's sister describes the process beautifully here. She also has a pretty fun slide show of the big day! This was a dream she and her husband Jimmy have had for many years and were kind enough to share with us. Thanks Kykers! Can't wait to be your neighbors!

I will sing to the LoRD because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:6

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Apple Pie Baking Playlist

When I baked my first apple pie last week my husband said, "That's not usually your style to bake a pie from scratch in the middle of the afternoon. Mmm. But maybe it should be." I wouldn't mind afternoon pie baking to become "my style" and so with the baking of my second ever apple pie a few days later I created this play list. Anything I am going to do repeatedly has to have its own playlist, right? For me it created the perfect apple pie baking atmosphere.

Another Day In Paradise ~ Phil Collins
Just Like A Woman ~ Bob Dylan
Born Country ~ Alabama
Coal Miner's Daughter ~ Loretta Lynn
Kiss An Angel Good Morning ~ Charley Pride
Elevator Love Letter ~ Stars
Once You've Loved Somebody ~ Dixie Chicks
Today My World Slipped Away ~ George Strait
Let's Embrace ~ Joseph Arthur
Mountain Music ~ Alabama
New Soul ~ Yael Naim
If You Ask Me To ~ Celine Dion
Forever Young ~ Rod Stewart
That's The Way Love Goes ~ Merle Haggard
The Good Stuff ~ Kenny Chesney
Time After Time ~ Cyndi Lauper
Too Busy Being In Love ~ Doug Stone
Tubthumping ~ Chumbawamba
Something Happened On The Way To Heave ~ Phil Collins

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Afton's First Sentence

Afton said her first sentence this week.

"Where's Daddy?"

Boy, she really loves that guy. And why shouldn't she? What's not to love?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Throne of Grace

"for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is -- limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death -- he [God] had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played them man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it all well worth it.

~Dorothy Sayers
Letters to a Diminished Church

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have on who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:15 & 16

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shared Prayers

This book of shared prayers has been a tremendous encouragement, rebuke, teacher, blessing in my life. It has helped me to turn my eyes upon Jesus like few other books ever have. I have recently rediscovered it and wanted to introduce it to any of you who have never read it. I heartily encourage you to find a copy and be sharpened and comforted by its beautiful, worship inspiring words. I know you won't regret it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Had To Scream For Help From A Stranger Out Of My Third Floor Window Today.

Our bedroom and bathroom doors stick. When they are shut all the way sometimes they can be really hard to open. We have known this since soon after we moved in. Lately, however, it has gotten even worse. When shut all the way these doors are now locking and can only be opened by using a mini screwdriver as a key. We have learned to be very careful not to shut any of our household doors completely, but to leave a small crack. This was working great until a couple of weeks ago when Afton learned to shut shut them all the way. She has locked herself in her room. She has locked her sister in our room. She has locked an empty bathroom more than once. None of these situations have caused us too much alarm because the mini screwdriver has always been there to save the day.

Then there was this morning. After breakfast I took Afton to her room to get her dressed for the day. I walked around doing a little straightening up. Afton was playing happily. I heard Ponder just starting to fuss to eat from the other room. I decided I better get Afton ready and head out to feed the baby. I looked up just in time to see Afton proudly pushing the door shut. My heart stopped. I felt my body and voice switch into slow motion as I lunged to stop her, screaming "Noooooooooooooooo!"

I was too late. The door clicked shut. I ran over to it and shook it. It was locked. Afton and I were locked in her room. We had no phone. We had no mini screwdriver. We had a hungry baby in her bed in the next room whose fussing was turning into crying. My heart immediately started racing. I broke into a nervous sweat. There was no help to be had from the inside of the room. I knew I had to get help from someone outside.

I popped Afton in her crib and told her she better hope we could get someone's attention quick or we were both in big trouble. She just giggled, totally oblivious to my full blown panic. I opened the window. Normally there are tons and tons of people buzzing outside my building but this morning the lot was dead quiet. I sat listening to my baby crying through the door thinking what am I going to do if no one comes by? That same phrase kept repeating in my head getting louder and louder. What am I going to do? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

Just then a friendly looking young woman came out of my building. She looked like someone I would have been friends with in college. If I was ever going to have to yell to a stranger for help I couldn't have asked for a better stranger. It could have been a lot worse. I looked a mess. I had bad morning hair and was still wearing my nightgown and glasses. I was so embarrassed about what I was about to do. Humiliated really. But I had no other options. I wasn't about to let this nice and safe looking stranger get away. I took a deep breath and did what I had to do.

"Excuse me!" She looked around. "Excuse me! I am up here. Can you help me?" She saw me then. "Can you help me? I am trapped up here." I saw fear come over her face and I realized she must have thought I was being help captive. My disheveled appearance certainly fit the part of a kidnapping victim. I quickly explained that it was my young daughter who had trapped me in the room and not someone more sinister. She very graciously called Ron and explained who she was and that his wife and daughter were trapped in a bedroom. I thanked her heartily and she was on her way with a good deed under her belt and a very unusual story to tell. Minutes later Ron arrived and we were freed.

Our Little Culprit

Afton never had a foggiest clue that she had caused any trouble. She has another new past time besides shutting doors. She now loves throwing dirty diapers into the trash can. That is a past time that comes in pretty handy around here, so I guess we'll keep her. Oh and don't worry, we asked for new door knobs and locks today and until they arrive we will make sure there is a mini screwdriver in every room.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Child

Though my mom is very good to remind that no matter how big she seems compared to Ponder she is still very much a baby, Afton seems more and more like a child everyday. She will always be my baby, but with every tick of the clock she is becoming more and more my little girl as well. She is sleeping in her big girl bed full time now and some time early next week she will get her first roommate. (Fingers crossed.) Before I know it Ponder will become a little girl too and the late night giggles of sisters will fill our hall and be music to our ears.

Afton's New Roommate

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Best Board Book I've Ever Read

...and I've read a lot of board books.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Promise Is To You and To Your Children

"And I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
Genesis 17:7

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Praise to the Lord!

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e're have been granted in what he ordaineth.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee!
Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty will do, if with his love he befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who with marvelous wisdom hath made thee,
Decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee.
How oft in grief hath not he brought thee relief, spreading his wings to o'ershade thee!

Friday, July 11, 2008

That Was Easy!

Happily announcing the arrival of Ponder Deborah Babington.

Born July 11, 2008 at 7:59AM.

8 Pounds 5 Ounces

20 1/2 Inches.

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift.

II Corinthians 9:15

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are all home and back under one roof again and very, very happy. Thank you for all your prayers!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life Itself.

A sweet lady, whom I had the pleasure to know briefly, passed away much earlier than she was expecting to this week. She is with Jesus now. That jolting reminder of mortality along with having my husband so far away and out of reach has really been pressing on my mind what a wonderful and precious gift life itself really is. In thinking on these things I have been reminded of a beautiful quote I read many years ago. I think all would be well served by remembering the truth in these words:
I like living. I have at times been wildly, acutely, despairingly miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ~Agatha Christie

I am Thankful for...

1. My husband.
2. How God's strength is made perfect in my weakness.
3. A healthy child.
4. A smooth pregnancy.
5. The undeserved kindness of God.
6. The patience of God.
7. That God is not like me.
8. My grandma.
9. My baby's sweet disposition.
10. The ability to learn.
11. Friends.
12. How the internet has made sustaining precious friendships possible.
12. Finding Krista.
13. Hard times.
14. Uplifting songs.
15. Having to trust God.
16. Family.
17. A happy marriage.
18. Not getting what I deserve.
19. Grace.
20. Mercy.
21. Looking forward to Baltimore.
22. My baby's laughs.
23. My husband's kindness.
24. Finding kindred spirits again.
25. Life itself.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Whole World in His Hands

Tomorrow my sweet husband leaves the country for a three week long business trip to India and Pakistan. That means that for the next three weeks Afton and I will be without our greatest source of earthly joy. I know other women and babies have had to do without their men for much longer and in much more dangerous situations. My heart truly goes out to them. Knowing that, though, makes me feel his absence no less.

I, also, know and firmly believe that God has the whole world squarely, securely in his hands - India, Pakistan, outer space. No Christian will ever wander outside his all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful sovereignty. No place is too far, too high, too unstable, or too remote for God to protect his people. This I know and this I believe and this is my sleep granting peace. Still, it is hard for my not worry about Ron's safety and to let my mind wander to worse case scenarios. It is hard to let the dearest thing in the world to me out of my sight and out of my reach for so long.

So this post is just a plea for your prayers, dear friends. Pray for my Ronny. Pray that God will bring him back to me safely. Pray that the days will fly by like seconds. Pray that little Ponder will stay put in my womb until her daddy gets back. Pray that Afton won't miss her daddy too sadly but, that in some sweet way her little heart will grow in even more love for him while he is gone. Pray that Ron and I will be reminded afresh of our love for one another and that the fondness that absence brings us will erase any pettiness that has been born of our familiarity. Pray that I will learn anew to trust God and God alone with the most important things in my life. Pray that He would fill my heart with peace.

Three weeks with my husband in the Eastern Hemisphere. A small concern, even embarrassing to mention, compared with the trials of so many. But it is my present reality. One I dare not face without the gracious aid of my Lord. And so I ask for your prayers. Pray that God will bring him back to me safely. Pray that the days will fly by like seconds. Pray...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Favorite Pregnancy Snack

A small bowl of peanut butter and a mug of milk. Yum. It tastes best at about 3:00 PM. You know, right about now.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Afton is One

First a couple or item of business:
1. I am unabashedly copying this idea from my sister-in-law .
2. Afton turned one almost two months ago. It has taken me a while to get to this.
Dear Afton~
My sweet girl. I cannot believe it has been a year since you caught my eye from across the operating room. I whispered to your Daddy, "Look, there she is!" I know most experts will tell me that newborns can't see very far, certainly not all the way across the room like you were from us that night. All I can say to those experts is that I don't know about most newborns, but I know you were looking right at us. Your facial expression was something I know I will never forget. You had the look of an old man who had just been roused from his bed in the middle of the night. You greeted life with a look on your face that said, "This had better be good!"

I didn't get to hold you right away. You had had a real hard time being born and the pediatricians were making sure you were okay. I could tell by the look you gave us from their station that you were in fact okay. It actually looked like you were just humoring them. You were so expressive right from the start. I knew we were all going to be fast friends and that you would fit in with us perfectly.

And, oh my sweet girl, you certainly have. You have more than fit in. You have embellished and beautified our simple little life in ways we never knew possible. Your father and I adore you. You seemed to take to your life with us right away too. You cried and cried and cried in the car on the way home from the hospital, but as soon as we walked through the door of our building you immediately stopped. It was like you knew you were home. You knew you were where you belonged.

One of the the first things we discovered about you was that you are very adaptable. It doesn't take much to please you. As long as you are with your people and are having your basic needs met you never make a fuss. People are always commenting on how lucky we are to have such and easy-going baby. This personality trait came in very handy for you during the first weeks of your life. Due to several family emergencies you had flown five times by the time you were three months old. All the changes and travel never seemed to bother you. You seemed born to go with the flow.

Another thing that was unique about you was that you had very mature facial expressions. People would say that you looked at them just an adult would. It was really funny. Sometimes your faces were so serious that I felt like you were more mature that I was. It really sometimes seemed like I was caring for a very small adult.

Just because you could make some very serious faces, didn't mean you did not know how to have a good time. Actually, I would say that has been your most defining characteristic so far. Happiness. You are a very happy baby. You are a package of sunshine and smiles. Your zest for life lights up our home everyday. You love almost everything. Your joy is contagious. Your happiness makes us happy. Some of the sweetest moments of my days are coming into you room to get you from your nap and seeing your huge smile when you see me. The smile you give me when I kiss you goodnight is even sweeter. I pray that the gentle happiness that has been your trademark during your first year will be yours for the rest of your life.

You love cell phones. You hold them up to your ear and talk and talk. You love your pink and green blanky that Maw Maw made you. Everytime you come across it throughout your day you put your thumb in your mouth and snuggle it for a few seconds before you continue playing. You love to have a diaper wipe to play with each day. You use it to wipe all your babies' noses and to clean your toys. You love to wipe Mommy and Daddy's noses as well. You love people. Anytime a new person walks up you greet them with "Hi!" in the sweetest voice I have ever heard. You love babies. You call them "Ba". You love to carry your clean diaper for Mommy. You call it "di". You love to push buttons in the elevator and can say "Up" and "Down". You get so happy when Daddy comes home at night. You can hear him in the hall sometimes even before I do. I know that seeing how happy you are to see him makes his whole day worthwhile.

We love you so much Sweet Afton and are so dumbfoundedly grateful to God for lending you to us. I pray that He will give us the grace to love and care for you as He loves and cares for us.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hard Labor

I had to stop reading this book at least for the time being because I was starting to have pretty stressful dreams about it. It is extremely interesting, fascinating really, but not necessarily a good read for someone who, like me, will be giving birth in the next three months. If you are not in that category and like reading real stories about childbirth you may find it very enjoyable. One word of caution though. It is surprisingly rife with profanity for a book on this subject. I am not naive enough to believe that an awful lot of cussing does not go on in delivery rooms, but it seemed a little over the top and unnecessary to me. I don't know, maybe I am just not "raw" enough. I also haven't read the whole book so I can only speak to pages 1-91. Within those pages, however, I found some of the best advice about approaching the childbirth experience that I have ever read. I thought I would share it here:
Bring your written birth plans to the hospital, review them frequently with your OB in your weekly visits, go into the experience with all your hopes and dreams, but always be ready to go with the flow and cooperate if there is any untoward event that challenges your plan. In this way, you establish yourselves as informed consumers who can participate in the the team effort at the hospital, while allowing yourselves the necessary flexibility to deal with unexpected events, without wrecking your self-esteem and your dreams about this birth.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On the Golden Rule

One of the things I hate most in life is being misunderstood. I hate saying something the wrong way and sounding cold or rude or unconcerned or indifferent or angry or annoyed know anything that I actually am not trying to be at the time. I hate the feeling of knowing what someone thinks I think or feel and knowing they have it all wrong. I especially hate the feeling of not being able to explain myself well enough to be understood. I hate being sized up and mentally classified by someone I know sees me all wrong. I hate people thinking they know my motives or intentions or what I will do next when they really do not know me at all. I really, really hate these things. I hate being misunderstood.

Why am I bringing this up in a post about the Golden Rule? Well, because when I really sit and think about the Golden Rule, when I think about what I wish that others would do to me, this is what I think about. My ultimate wish for how I would like others to treat me is that they would really listen and take the time to understand me and until they do they would assume the very best of my motives and intentions and give me a huge benefit of the doubt and tons and tons of room to grow. Humble mercy, I guess, is what I would call it.

So with that in mind, how am I doing at following the Golden Rule? In a word? Horribly. I pride myself on being an excellent judge of character. I size people up in a moment and almost irreversibly make my mind up about them. I have never met a stranger I couldn't almost immediately classify. I am no better with non-strangers, with friends and loved ones. I assume I know them so well that I know their every reason for doing something and exactly what they will do next. I have a terrible habit of jumping to conclusions and leaving no room for the chance that I may be wrong about someone. This is a sad, sad picture of myself I am painting. But it is an all too accurate portrayal as well.

How ironic that the kind of treatment I desire most from my fellow man is the kind of treatment I can be so very stingy with; the exact kind of treatment I find it so difficult to offer to others. It reminds of a quote I heard once that was something like the sin you despise most in others is often the one you struggle with the most in your own life. That is not the exact quote, but it was something like that. I am wondering if anyone else has the same struggle. When you think about how you want to be treated by others, does what comes to mind kind of mirror one of your biggest struggles or weaknesses in the way you treat those around you? I would be interested to hear.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Downtown in Springtime.

This is the view from our apartment this week. I adore these candy-coated trees! I am so fortunate to love where I live. Being right in the center of a beautiful, thriving town is such a fun chapter in our lives right now. I am looking forward to living in a house in the country one day, but for now I couldn't be more content anywhere else in the world.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"I had only one choice and that was to chop its head off with a hoe."

This is a story that you just have to read! I am so impressed with my cousin-in-law Tracie and I assure you that you will be too!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To the Person Who Took My Wet Laundry Out of the Washer and Tossed it Aside

Dear Sir or Madame,
Forgive me. You are obviously very important and I didn't take that into account when I left my laundry in the washer for a few extra minutes so I wouldn't have to leave my bawling baby unattended. Don't worry I am not as important as you, so it doesn't matter if all my towels air dry in clumps and smell like mold.
Your friend,

I wanted to write this note out on a 3x5 card with a sharpie and tape it to the wash machine. Ron wouldn't let me. He said I would be embarrassed if anyone ever found out it was me. I am not sure I would be, but I am pretty sure I should be. See, I told you he is good for me.

The funny thing about me getting so mad about this situation (Oh and I was really mad. The first note I wanted to write can't be reprinted here.) is that just this morning I was listening to and I thought really learning from a sermon on humility. The crux of it was that humility means considering other people (their hopes, dreams, feelings, needs, desires to do their laundry) as more important that than yourself. That means that while I wanted the unknown launderer to be considerate of me, to think that perhaps I had a good reason for not returning to the laundry room the minute my final spin cycle ended, the right and humble way for me to look at it would have been for me to consider that perhaps they had a good reason for needing to start their laundry without delay. You know, maybe they had to leave suddenly for an unexpected trip and had no clean clothes. Maybe they hated to take my wet towels out of the washer, but saw no other option. Maybe not. The point is I don't know why they did it, but the humble and Christlike response would have, funnily enough, been much like my letter - minus all the sarcasm. It is hard not to think of myself as the most important person in the universe. It is something I hope I can learn to do.

My towels are fine to by the way. The world did not end. I found them very soon after they had been taken out and cast aside (see, I was trying to come back as fast as I could) and was able to put them right in the dryer without having to wash them again. I made sure to be back to retrieve them from the dryer the moment it stopped. I may have a long way to go towards humility, but I know how to take hint.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Buy Good Books and Read Them

For the past few weeks Ron and I have been enjoying Charlottesville's annual Gordon Avenue Library book sale . It is something we look forward to every year and is definitely one of our favorite things about Charlottesville. This week is 75% off week which means that patrons of the sale can buy good used books for ridiculous prices. By ridiculous prices I mean they are actually selling books you would want to read for 12 cents. It is quite absurd. Absurdly awesome!

Anyway with all of the books we have been buying lately I want to recommend a couple of jewels that have blessed me in one way or another.

I didn't buy this book at the book sale, but I did read every word of it. Yes, I am proud to say I read all 976 pages. Granted I started in December of 2006 and just finished this week, but nonetheless I read it all. What is more is I thoroughly enjoyed it. It starts in 1580 and finishes in in the late nineties. I heartily recommend it to anyone who loves history or America or both. You do not have to be a hard core history buff, however, to enjoy it. It reads more like a story book than a text book. I think that is how I managed to finish it!

I haven't read this book in its entirety yet and I don't always agree with everything Miss Manners has to say, so this is not a full on recommendation. I am just saying so far I have really enjoyed this book. One thing I like about Miss Manners is that she makes me want to live a fine and beautiful life. That is not the same thing as an expensive life. She inspires me to thoughtful, considerate, tasteful living, which I think is a good thing. I purchased her Guide To Excruciatingly Correct Behavior at the book sale two years ago and found it delightfully entertaining. When I saw her child rearing book at the sale this year I had to get it! So far I like it even better than the first one. Not only is it entertaining, it also seems to contain actual wisdom and insight that I think we will help me as a mother. Consider what she says here:

Miss Manners' dear mother, a teacher, often heard the parental lamentation of "But we give him everything" from those whose children confided in their teacher, separately, how much they cheerfully hated their parents. The parental complaint was followed by a list itemizing valuable goods given.
"I could never find a correlation between the parents' generosity and the child's feeling about them," noted Miss Manners' mother. "Then I began to notice a connection between the child's feelings and the parents' facial expressions when they came to pick him up at school, or even when they just talked about him. The parent who beamed at the child had a loving child, and the one who didn't, didn't. After that, it didn't seem to matter what else the parents did or didn't do."
Miss Manners is happy to present such unmaterialistic news, although she does not deny that many people's fondest childhood memories have to do with toys or other presents. Yet the parent who gives whatever is asked, when it is asked, seems to get no return except increased expectation. The generally sensible parent, who restricts giving to fixed occasions and choice of presents to items that are educational, useful, or apt to be of lasting, rather than fleeting enjoyment, will give enormous pleasure by a rare wild deviation from this policy.

I don't know about you, but I feel wiser for the reading of that.

I read this book when I was engaged and I thought it would really help me as a new wife. I am sure it did, though not nearly as much as it is helping me now on my second reading of it. By helping I really mean giving me a much needed kick to the behind. It was one thing to read it with stars in my eyes and my wedding day and honeymoon ahead of me. It is quite another reading it again with those things, as well as three and half years of marriage and one and two thirds children, already under by belt. True, it is not the inspired word of God, but it does seem to be pretty adept at cutting through to the true thoughts and intents of my heart. Very convicting, but very, very inspring and instructive. I ardently recommend to any woman who has a husband.

Friday, April 11, 2008

101 Things I Admire/Appreciate About My Husband

Ron Babington

1. He once spent the last $12 dollars we had in our checking account to buy me fancy J. Crew flip flops.

2. He always, always, always assumes the best of people.

3. He calls himself a perfectionist, but mercy is his strong suit.

4. He likes to think.

5. He works hard to put others at ease.

6. He honestly pursues excellence in all he does.

7. He does what is right without ever drawing attention to himself.

8. He is wise with money.

9. He loves kits and I think that is adorable.

10. His passwords are adorable.

11. He is good to others.

12. He is ravenous about learning.

13. He bears with me.

14. Children adore him because he knows how to have fun with them.

15. He has an opinion.

16. He loves discussion.

17. He knows how to deny himself.

18. If I were more like him I would be more like Christ.

19. He isn't afraid of hard work.

20. He likes my cooking.

21. He is patient with me.

22. He will help anyone in need.

23. He doesn't write people off.

24. He will admit when he is wrong.

25. He is fun to hang out with.

26. We both hate the same foods.

27. We both love milk.

28. He loves our daughter with all his heart.

29. He cares about me.

30. He is merciful with me.

31. He learns everything he possibly can about the things he is interested in.

32. He tries to make things easier for those around him.

33. He goes the extra mile.

34. He spoils me in his own sweet way.

35. He misses me when I go out of town.

36. He plans little surprises for me for weeks in advance.

37. He aims to please.

38. He *never* really complains. (Is that even possible?)

39. He is good to his nieces and nephews.

40. He is kind to my family.

41. He knows what is funny and what isn't.

42. He doesn't give up.

43. I know if he set his mind to it he could climb Mt. Everest. He might be surprised to know that I really admire that about him.

44. He gets involved.

45. He is not selfish with his time.

46. He tries hard to see other people's points of view.

47. One of his favorite words is "charitable" and I think that describes him perfectly.

48. His vocabulary.

49. His smile.

50. His kindness wrinkles and the kindness that caused them.

51. He does not influence me to evil.

52. He brings out the best in me.

53. His eye lashes.

54. How much I want my sons to be like their father.

55. Knowing our daughters will always be secure in his love.

56. How much he loves having a beard.

57. His polished manner of speaking.

58. His eagerness.

59. His caution.

60. His kindness to strangers.

61. His ability to make friends.

62. His evangelical heart.

63. His willingness to question the status quo.

64. How much fun it is to what T.V. and movies with him. I used to hate watching movies until I started watching them with him.

65. How much fun it is to travel with him. Same scenario as above!

66. I know I can trust him completely.

67. He once biked across town to bring me eye drops at work.

68. He once brought me home a half gallon of milk during the middle of his work day.

69. He always sneaks me pizza and bagels when they have them at his work.

70. He is kind to my friends.

71. He is respectful to service personnel.

72. He does what he has to do without grumbling.

73. He takes time for people.

74. He absolutely does not hold grudges.

75. He got be to actually love sports.

76. I learn from him all the time.

77. He buys books we can go through together has a family.

78. He always has New Year's Resolutions.

79. He has the purest heart I have even known. It is hard for someone to know you really well and still you think you have a pure heart. I know him really well and I still think he has a pure heart.

80. He forgives easily.

81. He proudly wears the scarf I made him.

82. His is not easily influenced to go against what he knows is right.

83. He has firm convictions.

84. His warmth of heart.

85. His humility.

86. He appreciates fine things, but doesn't need them to enjoy life.

87. He enjoys life.

88. He takes care of things for me.

89. He is not easily spooked.

90. He is stable and dependable.

91. He is always trying to better himself.

92. He is anything but a downer.

93. He is very generous.

94. He is not a fool.

95. He puts up with a lot from me.

96. He tries to always ease my burden.

97. He loves books.

98. He is a very good neighbor/tenant.

99. He is my most tangible reminder that God really, really loves me and hears my prayers.

100. I know there is absolutely nothing he wouldn't do for me.

101. He is the best husband I have ever even heard of.

Ron Babington

Shark Week

This email I sent to my husband pretty much sums up what our week has been like around here:

We are home from Java. Thanks so much. I had a cheese danish. You know, for protein. Afton and I shared an orange juice. It was nice. I realized on the way there this is pretty much the worst week of my life not including a tragedy. I particularly mean as far as my performance as a wife and mother goes. Culminating in me accidently stepping on Afton's arm and breaking her heart. All I can say is TGIF! I love you soupy!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Count Your Blessings ABC

With the whole thankfulness topic fresh in my mind from yesterday and with me needing a fresh perspective after a tough week I thought it would be fun to play an old game I learned in high school -- listing something I am thankful for every letter of the alphabet. The only rule for this game (and I do realize I am using the word game loosely) is that is has to be the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes it can be really surprising actually! It is fun at the end to see how much more I have to be thankful for than the tons and tons and tons upon tons of things I already know about. Oh yeah, and Q, Z , and X are freebies! Just in case it doesn't come up in my alphabet soup I want to mention that I am incredibly thankful that Ron's family is coming for a visit today. I actually can't wait until they get here. Well, since as of now we have no clean towels, I guess it is a good thing I have a little time! But I am thankful that they are on their way and that the wait won't be long!

Here goes:

A. How much Afton love applesauce.
B. The Babingtons.
C. Comfy-ness
D. Having my sweet Aunt Debby while growing up.
E. Everything being in God's hands.
F. A few faithful friends.
G. God.
H. My home.
I. How much Ron loves ice cream.
J. Jesus.
K. Kindnesses.
L. Love.
M. The privilege of being a mother.
N. My Nana.
O. Onions.
P. My Papa.
Q. Ron Harvey Babington
R. Ron Harvey Babington
S. September.
T. My brother Tim.
U. Umbrellaless rain walking.
V. Voyages.
W. Western culture.
X. Peace and quiet.
Y. Youth.
Z. Grace.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Whistle While You Work

We are on our third day in a row of intense separation anxiety around here. It is the kind where even the simple act of carrying my coffee cup from the living room to the kitchen sink is met with huge tears and terrified, heartbroken wails of protest. Excusing myself to use the bathroom is, of course, much, much worse. It is also a variety of separation that is not particularly particular. It doesn't seem that separation from me personally is what causes distress (that would be kind of flattering and precious) but separation from people in general. If anyone else is here I am completely dispensable, but when it is just me and Afton here my presence seems to rank in necessity right up there with oxygen. What makes this kind of separation anxiety (aloneness anxiety I think describes it better)so trying for me is that it lasts for most of the day, because for most of the day it is just us around here, and it vanishes as soon as Daddy gets home. He never really gets to see it and so of necessity it is a burden I carry alone.

But this post is not really about that. Another post will be soon. I have a theory that separation anxiety is much like puppy love, and will perhaps elaborate on that when I have more time. This post is to be about music, so let me get to that. This morning my frazzled nerves and I visited a sweet blog that asked its reader's what they were thankful for today. The most honest answer I could come up with at the time was easily summed up in two words. Nap Time. I have tons and tons and tons upon tons of things to be thankful for but today, at least at that moment, nap time was topping the list. I wished I had an answer that would be more profound and heartwarming, but if I was being honest that was what I had to say.

Later on, at the commencement of blessed nap time number two, I looked around at the state of my house, which has become an innocent victim of our aloneness anxiety crisis, and felt I had so very much to do before tomorrow, when all I wanted to do was sit down and soak up some silence. I knew that wasn't the best option, that I would feel much better if I reclaimed my living room from its occupiers (toys, pajamas, old magazines, and yes, more than a couple dirty diapers). Before I tackled this I turned on my iPod, something I usually do while cleaning but have neglected in the past few days of survival mode. As soon as I did that everything changed. Birds started chirping, the sunshine poured through my windows, a tangible peace settled upon my living room. I was going to make it and cleaning was going to be fun!

I am so amazed by and so thankful for the transforming power of music! It does many things, but what I am most thankful for today is its power to make mundane tasks more pleasant. Its power to get you through what you've got to do. God didn't have to bless us with it, but I am so glad he did. So to nap time, I add music as the things I am most aware of being thankful for today.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Christ As A Light

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! To celebrate, oh and I do so love to celebrate every possible holiday, I wanted to post the prayer of Saint Patrick, himself, here on my blog. I only know it as the exquisite song by John Michael Talbot that we played at our wedding. It is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Do yourself a favor and go to iTunes and purchase his song "Christ As A Light (The Prayer of St. Patrick). I guarantee it will be the best 99 cents you spend all day.

Anyway, like I said I wanted to post the prayer of Saint Patrick today and I figured it would be more proper to post his actual prayer than to simply post the song lyrics I love so much. My Google search for the actual words, however, came up with many, many different versions. Being neither Irish, nor Catholic, I had no idea which version was the real prayer of Saint Patrick! So I am posting JMT's lyrics, which I am more than happy to do. These words were the prayer of my heart on my wedding day three and a half years ago, and continue to perfectly capture my longing that Christ, Himself, would both surround and pervade all of me, and that my service as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend would be nothing less than service to Him.

Also because this song always happily reminds me of my wedding I am going to throw in a little wedding picture for free. One of the three snapshots I still have after my hard drive crashed last December. (It's not as bad as it sounds. I still have all the photographer's pictures and I know our parents have tons of snapshots too.)

The Prayer of Saint Patrick
According to John Michael Talbot

Christ as a Light illumine and guide me.
Christ as a Shield overshadow me.
Christ under me.
Christ over me.
Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me.
Lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak,
In the mouth of each who speak unto me.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Comma Confession.

I don't know where commas belong and where they do not belong anymore. I used to think I had a pretty good understanding of the proper usage of the English language. Not so much anymore. Lately, I am stumped by commas. I just can't remember all the rules. I wish there was a class at the library or something that I could take to help me remember. I think the fact that email doesn't require punctuation may be the reason I can't punctuate correctly anymore. I just realized that until I started this blog the only writing I have done since college has be in the form of an email. So there is my confession. I have no idea where commas belong in a sentence. I want to know though, so if you have any tips please send them my way. I just needed to get that off of my chest.

Triumph Of The Old-fashioned Cup

You are looking at the cup that has done what none of the fancy cups I have purchased in the past several weeks could do. It allowed Afton to drink without soaking herself! I am so atonished because this is the exact kind of cup I used to drink out of when I was a toddler over twenty-five years ago!

When my mom sent me this kit a few weeks ago, I immediately dismissed the cups for the time being, thinking if Afton can't drink out of the state of the art cups they are making now, there is no way she can drink out of these old school cups that are the same design as my mom used to give me! Much to my surprise, about a week later when I gave her these dishes to play with, she picked the cup up and put it right to her mouth like she was drinking. Her form was perfect, better than with any of the other cups I had tried.

Very interesting I thought. I popped her in her high chair, filled the cup with water, recapped it and gave it to her......and she drank it! Perfectly! It was amazing. The cup was small and easy for her to hold. It was shallow, so it didn't require lots of tipping. It worked like a charm for her! Who would of thought the same cup I drank out of when I was a little girl was the cup that would do the trick for mine!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

For some reason I love the idea of Leap Day! It seems so fun and exciting to have an extra day in the year. I know no one treats it that way. Everyone just goes on as if it were just another day. Even so, an extra day is exactly what it is. Last year we had 365 days, this year we have 366, a whole extra day.

I always want to celebrate Leap Day, but am never sure how. The only people I know who do so are people who were lucky (or as some think unlucky) enough to be born on a Leap Day. One fun way I thought of celebrating it would be for me and Afton to walk over to the hospital (the one where she was born is just across the parking lot from our building) and see if there were any babies born today and smile and wave at them through the nursery window. I thought better of it, deciding that may be a little weird. Still, it is fun to look at newborns in the hospital. Everybody knows that!

The best celebration of the day I have had so far was reading up on its history this morning in The Christian Almanac. Ron started reading it to us each morning this fall and I was very excited today that in our first February of reading we got to read the entry for the 29th. As I told Ron this morning, we could have very easily gone four years with out getting to read it! Here is what Grant and Wilbur had to say about Leap Year:

"The leap year system was adopted by Julius Caesar to keep the calendar from getting out of whack and was adjusted in 1582 by Pope Gregory XII. An extra day is added every four years, except for years ending in 00 -- unless the year is divisible by 400. Thus 2000 was a leap year, and so was 1600, but 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not."

I, for one, had no idea there were any rules about years ending in 00. I guess that is because 2000 was the only year with double zeroes during which I was alive. Apart from some pretty rad medical advances and/or the special intervention of God himself, I probably won't get to see a 00 year that is not a leap year. That is okay with me, though. I am glad I was here for one of the few that were leap years.

I have spent the day deciding what I will do with this extra day. I couldn't do anything but the usual today, but I have a fun plan that I am rain checking for myself and my family. Now, I also realize that what I would do with an extra day is probably not exactly what Ron would do, so I am going to encourage him to decide what he wants to do with his extra day this year and take a rain check on it himself. They will have to be different days, of course, because he is a big part of my extra day plans.

I think this is going to become my new way of celebrating Leap Year. Decide what I would do if I had more time and then take a day that year and do it! I am pretty excited about it! I will let you know when I have my day, what I decide to do, and how it goes!

I would love to hear what any of you would do if you were a give an extra day this year. After all, let's face it, you were.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Look Familiar?

I think we can all relate to this on some level.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Told You I Love Birth Stories

My sweet friend Mary Lindsey finally got her sweet baby last week! What a delightful blessing! Read all about it here:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Home-Making ~ by J.R. Miller

I wrote this review for my church newsletter which I hope explains its brevity and broadness. I wish I had time to do this blessed book more justice, but for now, I simply do not. I will add two things:

1. I am not exaggerating when I say this is the best book I have ever read.

2. It makes an excellent wedding present. I doubt I will ever give anything else.

I heartily recommend Home-Making by J.R. Miller to anyone who is a part of a family! Yes, that is everybody! Do not be misled by the title or the cover. This is not a book written only for wives and mothers. All members of a Christian home – fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives will be blessed, encouraged, sharpened, and challenged by a reading of this book.

Miller begins his book with a chapter on what the calls "The Wedded Life" which is the very bedrock of the family. He then devotes a chapter to each role in every family. There is a chapter directed to the husband, the wife, the parents, the children, and a chapter on the special relationship between brothers and sisters.

In each of these chapters Miller describes with beauty and eloquence what it looks like when Christians live out the sweet sacrifice of Christ daily in the most important place on earth – the home. The final chapters of the book are spent on more comprehensive topics such as the home life and religion in the home.

I hope you will be as inspired by this lovely book as I have been.

"You know what a true home ought to be. It ought to be a place where love rules. It ought to be beautiful, bright, joyous, full of tenderness and affection; a place in which all are growing happier and better each day."

Friday, February 15, 2008

To Remember When Overwhelmed, Interrupted, and Delayed

"It is something that my husband has been satisfied with his wife and his home today; that does me good."

~Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What More Could I Ask For

from Ron Babington to Jenny-Lynn Babington
date Jan 23, 2008 5:22 PM
subject: The Plan
5:22 PM

k, then here's the deal:

1) I come home, kiss and hug

2) We say "hello"

3) I take afton out for errands, or
a) we all three go out for errands

4) Sams/ tires, Wal-Mart formula and long liners, Target butt paste

5) Pick up large pepperoni pizza from pizza hut for Idol and Liar

6) Enjoy the same

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Just Shall Live By Faith

Off and on for the past few weeks I have been working with Afton on learning to drink from a sippy cup. I recently read that spill proof cups are hard for novice drinkers to get liquid from and can therefore frustrate and dishearten them. That sounded like a terrible outcome! What was I to do? The article recommended removing the the part of the cup that makes it spill proof. I obediently complied and these were the results:

The top picture really doesn't capture what was going on there. Juice was spewing from the cup as rapidly as water spews from a watering pot. Afton was having the time of her life soaking her face and her hair and the carpet. It was really sweet and funny. You would also think it might have been a learning moment for me. Not really. The next picture was taken about a week later, the next time I tried. I gave her the same "spill all you want" cup with the same instructions, "Drink like a big girl!" As you can see, much to Afton's delight, the same results followed.

I am pretty skeptical by nature and I don't believe everything I read. Except when it comes to the advice of experts.....particularly Christian experts. I start out with the assumption that they must know more than I do about the ins and outs of any situation I have yet to encounter. It took me two instances of my daughter emptying a four ounce cup of juice onto herself and everything around her in less than a minute before I came to terms with the fact the though it may be true that spill proof cups don't work for lots of babies, the "spill all you want" cups definitely weren't working for my baby. Too bad I didn't realize this before I threw the spill proof pieces of all my new cups into the garbage.

I think this tendency in me to cling to the recommendations and opinions of experts with almost the same fervor that I cling to gospel comes from a desire that there be one right and perfect way to mother. Give me some rules and steps to follow and a guarantee that if I do then my kids will have a good mommy, that they will be good kids who grow into even better adults. I know it doesn't work that way. It just takes lots of little reminders like this one to really drive it home.

It is tempting to think it would be nice if it did work that way. It would take a lot of the hassle out of life. The problem is that it would take a lot of the beauty out of life as well. If all babies were the same would they be so, so special to us? If a list of rules could teach me how to mother would I be as acutely aware of my need of the merciful and gracious aid of God. I know I would not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Three Calendars

When 2005 became 2006 and it was time to switch the calendars, I decided not to throw the 2005 calendar away. 2005 was the first full year Ron and I were married and I thought it would be so special to keep every calendar we ever had as a married couple. It would be so cute, I thought, to look back when we were in our fifties and remember that on February 22 of the first year we were married I worked from 9:00AM to 5:30PM and Ron worked from 3:00PM to 11:30PM. You know, and other stuff like that. Ever since then at the beginning of the new year I have tucked away the previous year's calendar somewhere in my closet.

Today as I was picking up my messy closet I came across all the calendars we have ever had together and something really struck me. There were only three of them. Wow. Every single day of my entire marriage could fit into those three small booklets. I felt so small and insignificant. Small and insignificant, like I really am. Those three years had been the biggest and most significant of my life. But they were still just three tiny years. I thought of all the people I knew who would have thirty or forty calendars had they saved them all, or of Ron's grandma who had earned sixty-five calendars before she lost her husband last spring. There were people not much older that me who were already up to ten or more. I only had three. Those three calendars served as great reminder to me of all I still have to learn. Sometimes when I can feel myself growing and learning and changing so much I get excited and maybe a little proud of myself and feel like I am actually becoming something. Seeing those three calendars reminded me that I am only rookie. It might do me some good every now and then to be quiet about what I know and have learned and just listen to those who have a little more experience than I have. This was the humble pie that I had more breakfast this morning.

On a funny note about calendars, this year was Ron's turn to pick ours out. I will enclose a picture of our fourth calender. The one hanging on the wall in our living room right now.

Yes, those are guns. And, no, I never would have agreed to this in 2005. I can't even imagine what the relaxing effect of time and the sanctifying effect of marriage will have me hanging on my walls should God be pleased to give us fifty or so more years.

Friday, January 11, 2008

If Mama Ain't Happy

I have always kinda hated the saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It evokes for me the image of a demanding, hard to please woman whose emotions tyrannically rule those around her. The kind of woman I never want to be. The kind of woman I know I could very easily become if I am not careful and apart from the grace of God. Lately, however I have come to understand the profound truth in that statement. I have also come to understand that really need not be an admonition to those around mama, but to mama herself.

This realization came a couple of weeks ago when my husband came home from work and made this remark, "You seem to be in good spirits!" He said it with a small measure of surprise and no small measure of joy on his face. At first I was a little puzzled. Was this such a strange occurrence? Am I not usually in "good spirits?" Before I opened my mouth to ask I thought about the previous few weeks.

To start off I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. I have not proven myself to be a real trooper (i.e. silent sufferer) when it comes to pregnancy. Secondly, this pregnancy seemed to be doing a real bang up job on my emotions, not just my tummy and my energy like last time. Thirdly, I had been pretty sick and then so had my baby. And lastly, my previously very easy going baby had entered a little fussy phase just as I had entered my weakened state. So yeah, while I would like to believe I hadn't been downright grumpy, I could concede that perhaps it had been a while since my husband had come home to find me in actual good spirits.

What was of such great interest to me was how delightfully happy he was to find me in that state. It was very curious to me. I just locked this little observation away in my heart. In the weeks that followed I began to see this was a trend. The happier I was the happier he was - the more we seemed to enjoy each other's company and the more smoothly we sailed through the little things that came our way. The gloomier I became the more sullen he became. Things became harder for both of us. I then started noticing that the same was true with my baby. When I was having a joyful day, she seemed to have a joyful day right along with me. The more tense and overwhelmed and unhappy my behavior was, the less consolable she was. I began to realize the kindest and most loving and outright best thing I can do for my family, for those I love most, and for those who love me most, is to choose joy. Just be happy. Look at the sunny side and be grateful. I couldn't believe such a small thing could have such an impact on our home. But it really did. More than a vacuumed rug, more than a delicious new recipe, more than everything being in place. Just a light-hearted, merry spirit.

That is when I remembered the old saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" And no one can be responsible for mama's happiness, but mama. I have a long ways to go to totally apply this principle to my life, but I am very excited about it. What could be a more pleasant goal than learning to be happy more regularly. I am not going to resort to fake happiness, because as I have been learning, it not only isn't fruitful, it isn't necessary. As a Christian, no matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for, something to really and truly smile about. That is the gift I am going to work to give my family this year. My smile.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

100 Things

1. I am really tired.
2. I am almost always really tired.
3. Pregnancy has never been my friend.
4. I am disappointed that my first three things sound like complaints.
5. I try to white wash my complaining by passing complaints off as statements that sound like complaints.
6. It looks like we will have a bad storm tonite.
7. I am from Oklahoma, but I have never seen a tornado in person.
8. I like storms now.
9. They used to scare me so bad I would get sick to my stomach.
10. My baby is sleeping.
11. She is a very sweet girl.
12. I had P.U.P.P.
13. That fact is what make me think I should do a list like this.
14. I love clocks.
15. I love my husband.
16. I have never been very good at fixing my hair.
17. This is harder than I thought it would be.
18. I love lists.
19. I mean I really, really love them.
20. When I was a kid I used to spend hours in my room making lists of names.
21. I am kind of a loner, but I love being with people I am close to.
22. I am mad that I worry about ending sentences with prepositions.
23. I mean who really cares.
24. Something weird just happened to my computer and erased the last several lines I had written.
25. I can't remember what they were exactly. Oh well.
26. I love the country.
27. I like the city, too.
28. I am always very eager for the next big thing.
29. My husband is good at tempering that quality in me.
30. He is very good for me.
31. I hope I am good for him.
32. I am very, very shy.
33. I am fine with that and I wish others would be too.
34. I have read that shyness is a form of self-centeredness.
35. At first I was offended, but now I am willing to admit it may be true. Partly.
36. I pray that I will be able to turn my back on self-centeredness.
37. I absolutely adore Corrie Ten Boom.
38. Once when I was in a hospital in Italy God miraculously revived and sustained the battery in an iPod I was using.
39. You don't have to believe me, but it is true.
40. I never make statements like that.
41. I want to be a really good mother.
42. Selfishness will be my biggest obstacle.
43. I still miss my Aunt Debby.
44. I believe in heaven.
45. I hate going to Sam's.
46. I hate waiting.
47. I love getting packages.
48. I guess were are all the same like those last two.
49. I love kindred spirits.
50. I haven't met one in a long, long time.
51. I had a great time in high school and college.
52. I wouldn't go back to either even for a day.
53. Dogmatism in little things annoys me.
54. Making big things out of little things annoys me.
55. I desperately want to do what is right.
56. I am afraid of baring my soul to others.
57. I wish I could find Savong Donovan.
58. Misty Sargent is one of my heroes.
59. Not that I have lots of heroes.
60. Basically just her and Corrie Ten Boom.
61. There are a whole lot of things that I could have done a lot better, but not a lot of things I would do over.
62. The only thing I can think of is that I would have stood up for Angie Wacek back in seventh grade.
63. I am so weak.
64. I was a regional spelling bee champion in sixth grade, but now I have a really, really hard time spelling.
65. I don't like country music as much a I used to.
66. I rarely miss home anymore.
67. I hate putting lotion on. It takes forever.
68. I hate being criticised.
69. I hate being misunderstood.
70. I just deleted the last two things I wrote because they were too embarrassing.
71. I hate TV, but I watch it a little everyday.
72. I do worry a lot about my family.
73. I hate having to explain myself.
74. I have been too hard on my husband.
75. I want people to think the best of me and my motives.
76. That is what I think of when I think of the golden rule.
77. I love relaxing.
78. I kinda like cooking.
79. I don't like things that are really complicated.
80. Except movie plots.
81. I wish I could remember how to make snow flakes.
82. I love hearing birth stories and engagement stories.
83. I hate listening to glory trips.
84. I don't like being one of a number of multi-tasks.
85. I don't like multi-tasking.
86. I love garlic.
87. I waited tables for over two years and it wasn't good for me.
88. I am overly considerate of service personnel.
89. I love the taste of red wine and would love to drink it every evening like Europeans supposedly do.
90. Other than that I am not at all impressed with Europe.
91. I was treated very, very well when I spent a week in a hospital in Italy.
92. My baby is waking up.
93. She is a very good baby.
94. I hope her brother or sister is just like her.
95. I am 13 weeks pregnant.
96. I am very, very happy about that.
97. I just started learning Latin with Rosetta Stone.
98. It is really fun.
99. My brother got it for me.
100. I love my brother.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Real Virtue?

Realness. The virtue of choice for me and most people my age. But is realness really so virtuous? I am beginning to wonder. It is definitely more virtuous than its obvious opposite, phoniness. Originally, I think it was a reaction against phoniness that brought "realness" its current prominence. I am coming to believe that it is something else that has allowed this quality to remain so popular and esteemed. It makes a perfect mask for sin. Think about it. I can behave in a lazy, unfriendly, foolish, inconsiderate, hurtful manner and if I pass it off as being "real" I am praised rather than criticized. How delightfully convenient. Not only that, but if I am really good at it I might even convince myself and then I get to be proud rather than ashamed of unseemly behavior. I am coming to realize that this is a major pitfall for me. It shows up most in my life through complaining. I would rather complain that put on one of those fake smiles I have been taught to despise. But are those my only two options? Must I choose between complaining and being fake? As a Christian I know the answer is certainly not. So that brings me to my New Year's Resolution of sorts. I aim to seek by the grace of God to stop complaining. I pray that He will help me to replace my complaints not with a skin deep, painted on smile, but with all the joy and gratefulness that befits one whom Christ has brought from death unto life.